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The Book Of The Thousand Nights And One Night, Volume III by Anonymous

Part 6 out of 7

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thee, "Who is my father?" say thou to him, "Thou art the son of
the Amir Khalid, Chief of the Police."' And she answered, 'I hear
and obey.' Then he circumcised the boy and reared him after the
goodliest fashion, bringing him a tutor, who taught him to read
and write; so he read (and commented) the Koran twice and learnt
it by heart and grew up, calling the Amir father. Moreover, the
latter used to go down with him to the tilting-ground and
assemble horsemen and teach the lad warlike exercises and the use
of arms, so that, by the time he was fourteen years old, he
became a valiant and accomplished cavalier and gained the rank of

It chanced one day that he fell in with Ahmed Kemakim and
clapping up an acquaintance with him, accompanied him to the
tavern, where Ahmed took out the lantern he had stolen from the
Khalif and fell to plying the wine-cup by its light, till he
became drunken. Presently Aslan said to him, 'O Captain, give me
yonder lantern;' but he replied, 'I cannot give it thee.' 'Why
not?' asked Aslan. 'Because,' answered Ahmed, 'lives have been
lost for it.' 'Whose life?' asked Aslan; and Ahmed said, 'There
came hither a man named Alaeddin Abou est Shamat, who was made
Captain of the Sixty and lost his life through this lantern.'
Quoth Aslan, 'And how was that?' 'Know,' replied Ahmed Kemakim,
'that thou hadst an elder brother by name Hebezlem Bezazeh, for
whom, when he became apt for marriage, thy father would have
bought a slave-girl named Jessamine.' And he went on to tell him
the whole story of Hebezlem's illness and what befell Alaeddin,
undeserved. When Aslan heard this, he said in himself, 'Most like
this slave-girl was my mother Jessamine and my father was no
other than Alaeddin Abou esh Shamat.' So he went out from him,
sorrowful, and met Ahmed ed Denef, who exclaimed at sight of him,
'Glory be to Him to whom none is like!' 'At what dost thou
marvel, O my chief?' asked Hassan Shouman. 'At the make of yonder
boy Aslan,' replied Ed Denef; 'for he is the likest of all
creatures to Alaeddin Abou esh Shamat.' Then he called Aslan and
said to him, 'What is thy mother's name?' 'She is called the
damsel Jessamine,' answered Aslan; and Ed Denef said, 'Harkye,
Aslan, take heart and be of good cheer, for thy father was none
other than Alaeddin Abou esh Shamat: but, O my son, go thou in to
thy mother and question her of thy father.' 'I hear and obey,'
answered he, and going in to his mother, said to her, 'Who is my
father?' Quoth she, 'The Amir Khalid is thy father.' 'Not so,'
rejoined he, 'my father was none other than Alaeddin Abou esh
Shamat.' At this, she wept and said, 'Who told thee this?' 'Ahmed
ed Denef, the Captain of the Guard,' answered he; so she told him
the whole story, saying, 'O my son, the truth can no longer be
hidden: know that Alaeddin was indeed thy father, but it was the
Amir Khalid who reared thee and adopted thee as his son. And now,
O my son, when thou seest Ahmed ed Denef, so thou say to him, "I
conjure thee, by Allah, O my chief, avenge me on the murderer of
my father Alaeddin Abou esh Shamat!"' So he went out from her and
betaking himself to Ahmed ed Denef, kissed his hand. Quoth Ed
Denef, 'What ails thee, O Aslan?' And he answered, 'I know now
for certain that I am the son of Alaeddin Abou esh Shamat and I
would have thee avenge me of my father's murderer.' 'And who was
thy father's murderer?' asked Ed Denef. 'Ahmed Kemakim the arch-
thief,' replied Aslan. 'Who told thee this?' said Ed Denef, and
Aslan answered, 'I saw in his hand the lantern hung with jewels,
that was lost with the rest of the Khalif's gear, and asked him
to give it me; but he refused, saying, "Lives have been lost on
account of this," and told me how it was he who had broken into
the palace and stolen the goods and hidden them in my father's
house.' Then said Ed Denef, 'When thou seest the Amir Khalid don
his harness of war, beg him to equip thee like himself and take
thee with him. Then do thou some feat of prowess before the
Khalif and he will say to thee, "Ask a boon of me, O Aslan." And
do thou answer, "I ask of thee that thou avenge me of my father's
murderer." If he say, "Thy father is alive and is the Amir
Khalid, the Chief of the Police," answer thou, "My father was
Alaeddin Abou esh Shamat, and the Amir Khalid is only my father
by right of fosterage and adoption." Then tell him all that
passed between thee and Ahmed Kemakim and say, "O Commander of
the Faithful, order him to be searched and I will bring the
lantern forth of his bosom."' 'I hear and obey,' answered Aslan
and returning to the Amir Khalid, found him making ready to
repair to the Divan and said to him, 'I would fain have thee arm
and harness me like thyself and carry me to the Divan.' So he
equipped him and carried him to the Divan, with Ahmed Kemakim at
his stirrup. Then the Khalif sallied forth of Baghdad with his
retinue and let pitch tents and pavilions without the city;
whereupon the troops divided into two parties and fell to playing
at ball and striking it with the mall from one to the other. Now
there was among the troops a spy, who had been hired to kill the
Khalif; so he took the ball and smiting it with the mall, drove
it straight at the Khalif's face; but Aslan interposed and
catching it in mid-volley, drove it back at him who smote it, so
that it struck him between the shoulders and he fell to the
ground. The Khalif exclaimed, 'God bless thee, O Aslan!' and they
all dismounted and sat on chairs. Then the Khalif bade bring the
smiter of the ball before him and said to him, 'Who moved thee to
do this thing and art thou friend or foe?' Quoth he, 'I am a foe
and it was my purpose to kill thee.' 'And wherefore?' asked the
Khalif. 'Art thou not an (orthodox) Muslim?' 'No,' replied the
spy; 'I am a Shiyaite.' So the Khalif bade put him to death and
said to Aslan, 'Ask a boon of me.' Quoth he, 'I ask of thee that
thou avenge me of my father's murderer.' 'Thy father is alive,'
answered the Khalif; 'and there he stands.' 'And who is he?'
asked Aslan. The Khalif replied, 'He is the Amir Khalid, Chief of
the Police.' 'O Commander of the Faithful,' rejoined Aslan, 'he
is no father of mine, save by right of fosterage; my father was
none other than Alaeddin Abou esh Shamat.' 'Then thy father was a
traitor,' said the Khalif. 'God forbid, O Commander of the
Faithful,' replied Aslan, 'that the Faithful should be a traitor!
But how did he wrong thee?' Quoth the Khalif, 'He stole my royal
habit and what was therewith.' 'O Commander of the Faithful,'
rejoined Aslan, 'God forfend that my father should be a traitor!
But, O my lord, didst thou ever recover the lantern that was
stolen from thee?' 'No,' answered the Khalif, 'we never got it
back.' And Aslan said, 'I saw it in the hands of Ahmed Kemakim
and begged it of him; but he refused to give it me, saying,
"Lives have been lost on account of this." Then he told me of the
sickness of Hebezlem Bezazeh, son of the Amir Khalid, by reason
of his passion for the damsel Jessamine, and how he himself was
released from prison and that it was he who stole the lamp and
robe and so forth. Do thou then, O Commander of the Faithful,
avenge me of my father on him who murdered him.' So the Khalif
caused Ahmed Kemakim to be brought before him and sending for
Ahmed ed Denef, bade him search him; whereupon he put his hand
into the thief's bosom and pulled out the lamp. 'Harkye,
traitor,' said the Khalif, 'whence hadst thou this lantern?' And
Kemakim replied, 'I bought it, O Commander of the Faithful!'
'Where didst thou buy it?' said the Khalif, 'and who could come
by its like to sell it to thee?' Then they beat him, till he
confessed that he had stolen the lantern and the rest, and the
Khalif said, 'O traitor, what moved thee to do this thing and
ruin Alaeddin Abou esh Shamat, the Trusty and Well-beloved?' Then
he bade lay hands on him and on the Chief of the Police, but the
latter said, 'O Commander of the Faithful, indeed I am unjustly
entreated; thou badest me hang him, and I had no knowledge of
this plot, for the thing was contrived between Ahmed Kemakim and
his mother and my wife. I crave thine intercession, O Aslan.' So
Aslan interceded for him with the Khalif, who said, 'What hath
God done with this lad's mother?' 'She is with me,' answered
Khalid, and the Khalif said, 'I command thee to bid thy wife
dress her in her own clothes and ornaments and restore her to her
former rank; and do thou remove the seals from Alaeddin's house
and give his son possession of his estate.' 'I hear and obey,'
answered Khalid, and going forth, carried the Khalif's order to
his wife, who clad Jessamine in her own apparel; whilst he
himself removed the seals from Alaeddin's house and gave Aslan
the keys. Then said the Khalif to Aslan, 'Ask a boon of me;' and
he replied, 'I beseech thee to unite me with my father.' Whereat
the Khalif wept and said, 'Most like it was thy father that was
hanged and is dead; but by the life of my forefathers, whoso
bringeth me the glad news that he is yet in the bonds of life, I
will give him all he seeketh!' Then came forward Ahmed ed Denef
and kissing the earth before the Khalif, said, 'Grant me
indemnity, O Commander of the Faithful!' 'Thou hast it,' answered
the Khalif; and Ed Denef said, 'I give thee the good news that
Alaeddin is alive and well.' Quo the Khalif, 'What is this thou
sayest?' 'As thy head liveth,' answered Ed Denef, 'I speak sooth;
for I ransomed him with another, of those who deserved death, and
carried him to Alexandria, where I set him up as a dealer in
second-hand goods.' Then said Er Reshid, 'I charge thee fetch him
to me;' and Ed Denef replied, 'I hear and obey;' whereupon the
Khalif bade give him ten thousand dinars and he set out for

Meanwhile Alaeddin sold all that was in his shop, till he had but
a few things let and amongst the rest a bag. So he shook the bag
and there fell out a jewel, big enough to fill the palm of the
hand, hanging to a chain of gold and having five faces, whereon
were names and talismanic characters, as they were ant-tracks.
'God is All-knowing!' quoth he. 'Belike this is a talisman.' So
he rubbed each face; but nothing came of it and he said to
himself, 'Doubtless it is a piece of [naturally] variegated
onyx,' and hung it up in the shop. Presently, a Frank passed
along the street and seeing the jewel hanging up, seated himself
before the shop and said to Alaeddin, 'O my lord, is yonder jewel
for sale?' 'All I have is for sale,' answered Alaeddin; and the
Frank said, 'Wilt thou sell it me for fourscore thousand dinars?'
'May God open!'[FN#116] replied Alaeddin. 'Wilt thou sell it for
a hundred thousand dinars?' asked the Frank, and he answered, 'I
sell it to thee for a hundred thousand dinars; pay me down the
money.' Quoth the Frank, 'I cannot carry such a sum about me, for
there are thieves and sharpers in Alexandria; but come with me to
my ship and I will pay thee the money and give thee to boot a
bale of Angora wool, a bale of satin, a bale of velvet and a
bale of broadcloth.' So Alaeddin rose and giving the jewel to
the Frank, locked up his shop and committed the keys to his
neighbour, saying, 'Keep these keys for me, whilst I go with this
Frank to his ship and take the price of my jewel. If I be long
absent and there come to thee Captain Ahmed ed Denef,--he who set
me up in this shop,--give him the keys and tell him where I am.'
Then he went with the Frank to his ship, where the latter set him
a stool and making him sit down, said [to his men], 'Bring the
money.' So [they brought it and] he paid him the price of the
jewel and gave him the four bales he had promised him; after
which he said to him, 'O my lord, honour me by taking a morsel or
a draught of water.' And Alaeddin answered, 'If thou have any
water, give me to drink.' So the Frank called for drink, and they
brought sherbets, drugged with henbane, of which no sooner had
Alaeddin drunk, than he fell over on his back; whereupon they
weighed anchor and shoving off, shipped the poles and made sail.
The wind blew fair and they sailed till they lost sight of land,
when the Frank bade bring Alaeddin up out of the hold and made
him smell to the counter-drug, whereupon he opened his eyes and
said, 'Where am I?' 'Thou art bound and in my power,' answered
the Frank; 'and if thou hadst refused to take a hundred thousand
dinars for the jewel, I would have bidden thee more.' 'What art
thou?' asked Alaeddin, and the other replied, 'I am a sea-
captain and mean to carry thee to my mistress.' As they were
talking, a ship hove in sight, with forty Muslim merchants on
board; so the Frank captain gave chase and coming up with the
vessel, made fast to it with grappling-irons. Then he boarded it
with his men and took it and plundered it; after which he sailed
on with his prize, till he reached the city of Genoa, where he
repaired to the gate of a palace, that gave upon the sea, and
there came forth to him a veiled damsel, who said, 'Hast thou
brought the jewel and its owner?' 'I have brought them both,'
answered he; and she said, 'Then give me the jewel.' So he gave
it to her and returning to the port, fired guns to announce his
safe return; whereupon the King of the city, being notified of
his arrival, came down to receive him and said to him, 'What
manner of voyage hast thou had?' 'A right prosperous one,'
answered the captain, 'and I have made prize of a ship with one-
and-forty Muslim merchants.' Being them ashore,' said the King.
So he landed the merchants in irons, and Alaeddin among the rest;
and the King and the captain mounted and made the captives walk
before them, till they reached the palace, where the King sat
down in the audience-chamber and making the prisoners pass before
him, one by one, said to the first, 'O Muslim, whence comest
thou?' 'From Alexandria,' answered he; whereupon the King said,
'O headsman, put him to death.' So the headsman smote him with
the sword and cut off his head: and thus it fared with the second
and the third, till forty were dead and there remained but
Alaeddin, who drank the cup of his comrades' anguish and said to
himself, 'God have mercy on thee, O Alaeddin! Thou art a dead
man.' Then said the King to him, 'And thou, what countryman art
thou?' 'I am of Alexandria,' answered Alaeddin, and the King
said, 'O headsman, strike off his head.' So the headsman raised
his arm and was about to strike, when an old woman of venerable
aspect presented herself before the King, who rose to do her
honour, and said to him, 'O King, did I not bid thee remember,
when the captain came back with captives, to keep one or two for
the convent, to serve in the church?' 'O my mother, answered the
King, 'would thou hadst come a while earlier! But take this one
that is left.' So she turned to Alaeddin and said to him, 'Wilt
thou serve in the church, or shall I let the King kill thee?'
Quoth he, 'I will serve in the church.' So she took him and
carried him forth of the palace to the church, where he said to
her, 'What service must I do?' And she answered, 'Thou must arise
in the morning and take five mules and go with them into the
forest and there cut dry firewood and split it and bring it to
the convent-kitchen. Then must thou take up the carpets and sweep
and wipe the stone and marble pavements and lay the carpets down
again, as they were; after which thou must take two bushels and a
half of wheat and sift it and grind it and knead it and make it
into cracknels for the convent; and thou must take also a bushel
of lentils and sift and crush and cook them. Then must thou fetch
water in barrels and fill the four fountains; after which thou
must take three hundred and threescore and six wooden platters
and crumble the cracknels therein and pour of the lentil pottage
over each and carry every monk and patriarch his platter.' 'Take
me back to the King and let him kill me,' said Alaeddin; 'it were
easier to me than this service.' 'If thou do the service that is
due from thee,' replied the old woman, 'thou shalt escape death;
but, if thou do it not, I will let the King kill thee.' Then she
went away, leaving Alaeddin heavy at heart. Now there were in the
church ten blind cripples, and one of them said to him, 'Bring me
a pot.' So he brought it him and he did his occasion therein and
said, 'Throw away the ordure.' He did do, and the blind man said,
'The Messiah's blessing be upon thee, O servant of the church!'
Presently, the old woman came in and said to him, 'Why hast thou
not done thy service?' 'How many hands have I,' answered he,
'that I should suffice for all this work?' 'Thou fool!' rejoined
she.' 'I brought thee not hither but to work. But,' added she,
giving him a wand of brass with a cross at the top, 'take this
rod and go forth into the highway, and whomsoever thou meetest,
were he governor of the ciy, say to him, "I summon thee to the
service of the church, in the name of the Messiah." And he will
not refuse thee. Then make him sift the wheat and grind it and
bolt it and knead it and bake it into cracknels; and if any
gainsay thee, beat him and fear none.' 'I hear and obey,'
answered he and did as she said, pressing great and small into
his service; nor did he leave to do thus for the space of
seventeen years, till, one day, the old woman came to him, as he
sat in the church, and said to him, 'Go forth of the convent.'
'Whither shall I go?' asked he, and she said, 'Thou canst pass
the night in a tavern or with one of thy friends.' Quoth he, 'Why
dost thou send me forth of the church?' and she replied, 'The
princess Husn Meryem, daughter of Youhenna, King of the city,
purposes this night to pay a visit to the church, and it befits
not that any abide in her way.' So he rose and made a show of
obeying her and of leaving the church; but he said in himself, 'I
wonder whether the princess is like our women or fairer than
they! Algates, I will not go till I have had a sight of her.' So
he hid himself in a closet[FN#117] with a window looking into the
church, and as he watched, in came the King's daughter. He cast
one glance at her, that cost him a thousand sighs, for she was
like the full moon, when it emerges from the clouds; and with her
was a damsel, to whom he heard her say, 'O Zubeideh, thy company
is grateful to me.' So he looked straitly at the damsel and found
her to be none other than his wife, Zubeideh the Lutanist, whom
he thought dead. Then the princess said to Zubeideh, 'Play us an
air on the lute.' But she answered, 'I will make no music for
thee, till thou grant my wish and fulfil thy promise to me.' 'And
what did I promise thee?' asked the princess. 'That thou wouldst
reunite me with my husband Alaeddin Abou esh Shamat,' said
Zubeideh. 'O Zubeideh,' rejoined the princess, 'be of good cheer
and play us an air, as a thank-offering for reunion with thy
husband.' 'Where is he?' asked Zubeideh, and Meryem replied, 'He
is in yonder closet, listening to us.' So Zubeideh played a
measure on the lute, that would have made a rock dance; which
when Alaeddin heard, his entrails were troubled and he came forth
and throwing himself upon his wife, strained her to his bosom.
She also knew him and they embraced and fell down in a swoon.
Then came the princess and sprinkled rose-water on them, till
they revived, when she said to them, 'God hath reunited you.' 'By
thy kind offices, O my lady,' replied Alaeddin and turning to his
wife, said to her, 'O Zubeideh, thou didst surely die and we
buried thee: how then camest thou to life and to this place?' 'O
my lord,' answered she, 'I did not die; but a Marid of the Jinn
snatched me up and flew with me hither. She whom thou buriedst
was a Jinniyeh, who took my shape and feigned herself dead, but
presently broke open the tomb and returned to the service of this
her mistress, the princess Husn Meryem. As for me, I was in a
trance, and when I opened my eyes, I found myself with the
princess; so I said to her, "Why hast thou bought me hither?" "O
Zubeideh," answered she, "know that I am predestined to marry thy
husband Alaeddin Abou esh Shamat: wilt thou then accept of me to
fellow-wife, a night for me and a night for thee?" "I hear and
obey, O my lady," rejoined I; "but where is my husband?" Quoth
she, "Upon his forehead is written what God hath decreed to him;
as soon as what is there written is fulfilled to him he must
needs come hither, and we will beguile the time of our separation
from him with songs and smiting upon instruments of music, till
it please God to unite us with him." So I abode with her till God
brought us together in this church.' Then the princess turned to
him and said, 'O my lord Alaeddin, wilt thou accept of me to
wife?' 'O my lady,' replied he, 'I am a Muslim and thou art a
Nazarene; so how can I marry thee?' 'God forbid,' rejoined she,
'that I should be an infidel! Nay, I am a Muslim; these eighteen
years have I held fast the Faith of Submission and I am pure of
any faith other than that of Islam.' Then said he, 'O my lady, I
would fain return to my native land.' And she answered, 'Know
that I see written on thy forehead things that thou must needs
fulfil and thou shalt come to thy desire. Moreover, I give thee
the glad tidings, O Alaeddin, that there hath been born to thee a
son named Aslan, who is now eighteen years old and sitteth in thy
place with the Khalif. Know also that God hath shown forth the
truth and done away the false by withdrawing the curtain of
secrecy from him who stole the Khalif's goods, that is, Ahmed
Kemakim the arch-thief and traitor; and he now lies bound and in
prison. It was I who caused the jewel to be put in the bag where
thou foundest it and who sent the captain to thee; for thou must
know that he is enamoured of me and seeketh my favours, but I
refused to yield to his wishes, till he should being me the jewel
and its owner. So I gave him a hundred purses[FN#118] and
despatched him to thee, in the habit of a merchant; and it was I
also who sent the old woman to save thee from being put to death
with the other captives.' 'May God requite thee for us with all
good!' said he. 'Indeed, thou hast done well.' Then she renewed
her profession of the Mohammedan faith at his hands, and when he
was assured of the truth of her speech, he said to her, 'O my
lady, tell me what are the virtues of the jewel and whence cometh
it?' 'It came from an enchanted treasure,' answered she, 'and has
five virtues, that will profit us in time of need. The princess
my grandmother, my father's mother, was an enchantress and
skilled in solving mysteries and winning at hidden treasures, and
from one of the latter came the jewel into her hands. When I grew
up and reached the age of fourteen, I read the Evangel and other
books and found the name of Mohammed (whom God bless and
preserve) in four books, the Evangel, the Pentateuch, the
Psalms[FN#119] and the Koran; so I believed in Mohammed and
became a Muslim, being assured that none is worship-worth save
God the Most High and that to the Lord of all creatures no faith
is acceptable save that of Submission. When my grandmother fell
sick, she gave me the jewel and taught me its virtues. Moreover,
before she died, my father said to her, 'Draw me a geomantic
figure and see the issue of my affair and what will befall me.'
And she foretold him that he should die by the hand of a captive
from Alexandria. So he swore to kill every captive from that
place and told the captain of this, saying, "Do thou fall on the
ships of the Muslims and seize them and whomsoever thou findest
of Alexandria, kill him or bring him to me." The captain did his
bidding and he slew as many in number as the hairs of his head.
Then my grandmother died and I took a geomantic tablet, being
minded to now who I should marry, and drawing a figure, found
that none should be my husband save one called Alaeddin Abou esh
Shamat, the Trusty and Well-beloved. At this I marvelled and
waited till the times were accomplished and I foregathered with
thee.' So Alaeddin took her to wife and said to her, 'I desire to
return to my own country.' 'If it be so,' replied she, 'come with
me.' Then she carried him into the palace and hiding him in a
closet there, went in to her father, who said to her, 'O my
daughter, my heart is exceeding heavy to-day; let us sit down and
make merry with wine, thou and I.' So he called for a table of
wine, and she sat down with him and plied him with wine, till he
lost his wits, when she drugged a cup with henbane, and he drank
it off and fell backward. Then she brought Alaeddin out of the
closet and said to him, 'Come; thine enemy is laid prostrate, for
I made him drunk and drugged him; so do thou with him as thou
wilt.' Accordingly Alaeddin went to the King and finding him
lying drugged and helpless, bound him fast, hand and foot. Then
he gave him the counter-drug and he came to himself and finding
his daughter and Alaeddin sitting on his breast, said to her, 'O
my daughter, dost thou deal thus with me?' 'If I be indeed thy
daughter,' answered she, 'become a Muslim, even as I have done;
for the truth was shown to me, and I embraced it, and the false,
and I renounced it. I have submitted myself unto God, the Lord of
all creatures, and am pure of all faiths contrary to that of
Islam in this world and the next. Wherefore, if thou wilt become
a Muslim, well and good; if not, thy death were better than thy
life.' Alaeddin also exhorted him to embrace the true faith; but
he refused and was obstinate: so Alaeddin took a dagger and cut
his throat from ear to ear. Then he wrote a scroll, setting forth
what had happened and laid it on the dead man's forehead, after
which they took what was light of weight and heavy of worth and
returned to the church. Here the princess took out the jewel and
rubbed the face whereon was figured a couch, whereupon a couch
appeared before her and she mounted upon it with Alaeddin and
Zubeideh, saying, 'O couch, I conjure thee by the virtue of the
names and talismans and characters of art engraven on this jewel,
rise up with us!' And it rose with them into the air and flew,
till I came to a desert valley, when the princess turned the face
on which the couch was figured towards the earth, and it sank
with them to the ground. Then she turned up the face whereon was
figured a pavilion and tapping it, said, 'Let a pavilion be
pitched in this valley.' And immediately there appeared a
pavilion, in which they seated themselves. Now this valley was a
desert waste, without grass or water; so she turned a third face
of the jewel towards the sky and said, 'By the virtue of the
names of God, let trees spring up here and a river run beside
them!' And immediately trees sprang up and a river ran rippling
and splashing beside them. They made their ablutions and prayed
and drank of the stream; after which the princess turned up a
fourth face of the jewel, on which was figured a table of food,
and said, 'By the virtue of the names of God, let the table be
spread!' And immediately there appeared before them a table,
spread with all manner rich meats, and they ate and drank and
made merry.

Meanwhile, the King's son went in to waken his father, but found
him slain and seeing the scroll, took it and read. Then he sought
his sister and finding her not, betook himself to the old woman
in the church, of whom he enquired of her, but she said, 'I have
not seen her since yesterday.' So he returned to the troops and
cried out, saying, 'To horse, cavaliers!' Then he told them what
had happened, and they mounted and rode after the fugitives, till
they drew near the pavilion. Presently, Husn Meryem looked up and
saw a cloud of dust, which spread till it covered the prospect,
then lifted and discovered her brother and his troops, crying
aloud and saying, 'Whither will ye fly, and we on your track!'
Then said she to Alaeddin, 'Art thou steadfast in battle?' 'Even
as the stake in bran,' answered he; 'I know not war nor battle,
neither swords nor spears.' So she pulled out the jewel and
rubbed the fifth face, that on which were depictured a horse and
his rider, and straightway a horseman appear out of the desert
and driving at the pursuing host, ceased not to do battle with
them and smite them with the sword, till he routed them and put
them to flight. Then said the princess to Alaeddin, 'Wilt thou go
to Cairo or to Alexandria?' And he answered, 'To Alexandria.'
So they mounted the couch and she pronounced over it the
conjuration, whereupon it set off with them and brought them to
Alexandria in the twinkling of an eye. They alighted without the
city and Alaeddin hid the women in a cavern, whilst he went into
Alexandria and fetched them veils and outer clothing, wherewith
he covered them. Then he carried them to his ship and leaving
them in the room behind it, went forth to fetch them the morning
meal, when he met Ahmed ed Denef coming from Baghdad. He saw him
in the street and received him with open arms, embracing him and
welcoming him. Ed Denef gave him the good news of his son Aslan
and how he was now come to the age of twenty; and Alaeddin, in
his turn, told the captain of the guard all that had befallen
him, whereat he marvelled exceedingly. Then he brought him to his
lodging, where they passed the night; and next day he sold his
shop and laid its price with his other monies. Now Ed Denef had
told him that the Khalif sought him; but he said, 'I am bound
first for Cairo, to salute my father and mother and the people of
my house.' So they all mounted the couch and it carried them to
Cairo the Happy, where they alighted in the street called Yellow,
where stood Shemseddin's house. Alaeddin knocked at the door, and
his mother said, 'Who is at the door, now that we have lost our
beloved?' 'It is I, Alaeddin,' replied he; whereupon they came
down and embraced him. Then he sent his wives and baggage into
the house and entering himself with Ahmed ed Denef, rested there
three days, after which he was minded to set out for Baghdad and
his father said, 'O my son, abide with me.' But he answered, 'I
cannot brook to be parted from my son Aslan.' So he took his
father and mother and set out for Baghdad. When they came
thither, Ahmed ed Denef went in to the Khalif and gave him the
glad tidings of Alaeddin's arrival and told him his story;
whereupon the Prince went forth to meet him, accompanied by his
son Aslan, and they met and embraced each other. Then the Khalif
sent for Ahmed Kemakim and said to Alaeddin, 'Up and avenge thee
of thine enemy!' So he drew his sword and smote off Ahmed's head.
Then the Khalif held festival for Alaeddin and summoning the
Cadis and the witnesses, married him to the princess Husn Meryem;
and he went in to her and found her an unpierced pearl. Moreover,
the Khalif made Aslan Chief of the Sixty and bestowed upon him
and his father sumptuous dresses of honour; and they abode in the
enjoyment of all the comforts and pleasures of life, till there
came to them the Destroyer of Delights and the Sunderer of


It is told of Hatim et Taï[FN#120], that when he died, they
buried him on the top of a mountain and set over his grave two
boughs hewn out of two rocks and stone figures of women with
dishevelled hair. At the foot of the hill was a stream of running
water, and when wayfarers camped there, they heard loud crying in
the night, from dark till daybreak; but when they arose in the
morning, they found nothing but the girls carved in stone. Now
when Dhoulkeraa, King of Himyer, going forth of his tribe, came
to the valley, he halted to pass the night there and drawing near
the mountain, heard the crying and said, 'What lamenting is that
on yonder hill?' They answered him, saying, 'This is the tomb of
Hatim et Taï, over which are two troughs of stone and stone
figures of girls with dishevelled hair; and all who camp in this
place by night hear this crying and lamenting.' So he said
jestingly, 'O Hatim et Taï, we are thy guests this night, and we
are lank with hunger.' Then sleep overcame him, but presently he
awoke in affright and cried out, saying, 'Help, O Arabs! Look at
my beast!' So they came to him and finding his she-camel
struggling in the death-agony, slaughtered it and roasted its
flesh and ate. Then they asked him what had happened and he said,
'When I closed my eyes, I saw in my sleep Hatim et Taï, who came
to me with a sword in his hand and said to me, "Thou comest to us
and we have nothing by us." Then he smote my she-camel with his
sword, and she would have died, though ye had not come to her and
cut her throat.' Next morning the prince mounted the beast of one
of his companions and taking the latter up behind him, set out
and fared on till midday, when they saw a man coming towards
them, mounted on a camel and leading another, and said to him,
'Who art thou?' 'I am Adi, son of Hatim et Taï,' answered he.
'Where is Dhoulkeraa, prince of Himyer?' 'This is he,' replied
they, and he said to the prince, 'Take this camel in place of
thine own, which my father slaughtered for thee.' 'Who told thee
of this?' asked Dhoulkeraa, and Adi answered, 'My father appeared
to me in a dream last night and said to me, "Harkye, Adi;
Dhoulkeraa, King of Himyer, sought hospitality of me and I,
having nought to give him, slaughtered him his she-camel, that he
might eat: so do thou carry him a she-camel to ride, for I have
nothing."' And Dhoulkeraa took her, marvelling at the generosity
of Hatim et Taï, alive and dead.


It is told of Maan ben Zaïdeh[FN#121] that, being out one day
a-hunting, he became athirst and would have drunk, but his men
had no water with them. Presently, he met three damsels, bearing
three skins of water; so he begged drink of them, and they gave
him to drink. Then he sought of his men somewhat to give the
damsels; but they had no money; so he gave each girl ten
golden-headed arrows from his quiver. Whereupon quoth one of them
to her mates, 'Harkye! These fashions pertain to none but Maan
ben Zaïdeh; so let each of us recite somewhat of verse in his
praise.' Then said the first:

He heads his shafts with gold and shooting at his foes, Dispenses
thus largesse and bounties far and wide,
Giving the wounded man wherewith to get him cure And
grave-clothes unto him must in the tombs abide.

And the second:

A warrior, for the great excess of his magnificence, both friends
and foes enjoy the goods his liberal hands dispense.
His arrowheads are forged of gold, that so his very wars May not
estop his generous soul from its munificence.

And the third:

With arrows he shoots at his foes, of his generosity, Whose heads
are fashioned and forged of virgin gold, in steel's room;
That those whom he wounds may spend the price of the gold for
their cure And those that are slain of his shafts may buy
them the wede of the tomb.


It is told also of Maan ben Zaïdeh that he went forth one day to
the chase with his company, and they came upon a herd of
gazelles. So they separated in pursuit of them and Maan was left
alone in chase of one of the gazelles. When he had made prize of
it, he alighted and slaughtered it; and as he was thus engaged,
he espied a man coming towards him on an ass. So he remounted and
riding up to the new-comer, saluted him and asked him whence he
came. Quoth he, 'I come from the land of Cuzaäh, where we have
had a two years' dearth; but this year it was a season of plenty
and I sowed cucumbers. They came up before their time, so I
gathered the best of them and set out to carry them to the Amir
Maan ben Zaïdeh, because of his well-known generosity and
notorious munificence.' 'How much cost thou hope to get of him?'
asked Maan, and the Bedouin answered, 'A thousand diners.' 'What
if he say, "This is too much"?' quoth Maan. 'Then I will ask five
hundred diners,' said the Bedouin. 'And if he say, "Too much"?'
said Maan. 'Then three hundred,' replied the other. 'And if he
say yet, "Too much"?' 'Then two hundred.' 'And yet, "Too much"?'
'Then one hundred.' 'And yet, "Too much"?' 'Then fifty.' 'And
yet, "Too much"?' 'Then thirty.' 'And if he still say, "Too
much"?' said Maan ben Zaïdeh. 'Then,' answered the Bedouin, 'I
will make my ass set his feet in his sanctuary[FN#122] and return
to my people, disappointed and empty-handed.' Maan laughed at him
and spurring his horse, rode on till he came up with his suite
and returned home, when he said to his chamberlain, 'If there
come a man with cucumbers, riding on an ass, admit him.'
Presently up came the Bedouin and was admitted to Maan's
presence, but knew him not for the man he had met in the desert,
by reason of the gravity and majesty of his aspect and the
multitude of his servants and attendants, for he was seated on
his chair of estate, with his officers about him. So he saluted
him and Maan said to him, 'O brother of the Arabs, what brings
thee?' 'I hoped in the Amir,' answered the Bedouin, 'and have
brought him cucumbers out of season.' 'And how much cost thou
expect of us?' asked Maan. 'A thousand diners,' answered the
Bedouin. 'Too much,' said Maan. Quoth the Bedouin, 'Five
hundred;' but Maan repeated, 'Too much.' 'Then three hundred,'
said the Bedouin. 'Too much,' said Maan. 'Two hundred.' 'Too
much' 'One hundred.' 'Too much' 'Fifty.' 'Too much.' At last the
Bedouin came down to thirty diners; but Maan still replied, 'Too
much.' 'By Allah,' cried the Bedouin, 'the man I met in the
desert brought me ill luck! But I will not go lower than thirty
diners.' The Amir laughed and said nothing; whereupon the Bedouin
knew that it was he whom he had met and said, 'O my lord, except
thou bring the thirty diners, there is the ass tied ready at the
door and here sits Maan.' At this, Maan laughed, till he fell
backward, and calling his steward, said to him, 'Give him a
thousand diners and five hundred and three hundred and two
hundred and one hundred and fifty and thirty and leave the ass
where he is.' So the Bedouin, to his amazement, received two
thousand and nine score diners, and may God have mercy on them


There was once a city in the land of the Franks, called the City
of Lebtait.[FN#123] It was a royal city and in it stood a tower
which was always shut. Whenever a King died and another King of
the Franks took the Kingship after him, he set a new and strong
lock on the tower, till there were four-and-twenty locks upon
the gate. After this time, there came to the throne a man who was
not of the old royal house, and he had a mind to open the locks,
that he might see what was within the tower. The grandees of his
kingdom forbade him from this and were instant with him to
desist, offering him all that their hands possessed of riches and
things of price, if he would but forego his desire; but he would
not be baulked and said, 'Needs must I open this tower.' So he
did off the locks and entering, found within figures of Arabs on
their horses and camels, covered with turbans with hanging ends,
girt with swords and bearing long lances in their hands. He found
there also a scroll, with these words written therein: 'Whenas
this door is opened, a people of the Arabs, after the likeness of
the figures here depictured, will conquer this country; wherefore
beware, beware of opening it.' Now this city was in Spain, and
that very year Tarik ibn Ziyad conquered it, in the Khalifate of
Welid ben Abdulmelik[FN#124] of the sons of Umeyyeh, slaying this
King after the sorriest fashion and sacking the city and making
prisoners of the women and boys therein. Moreover, he found there
immense treasures; amongst the rest more than a hundred and
seventy crowns of pearls and rubies and other gems, and a saloon,
in which horsemen might tilt with spears, full of vessels of gold
and silver, such as no description can comprise. Moreover, he
found there also the table of food of the prophet of God, Solomon
son of David (on whom be peace), which is extant even now in a
city of the Greeks; it is told that it was of green emerald, with
vessels of gold and platters of chrysolite; likewise, the Psalms
written in the [ancient] Greek character, on leaves of gold set
with jewels, together with a book setting forth the properties of
stones and herbs and minerals, as well as the use of charms and
talismans and the canons of the art of alchemy, and another
that treated of the art of cutting and setting rubies and
other [precious] stones and of the preparation of poisons
and antidotes. There found he also a representation of the
configuration of the earth and the seas and the different towns
and countries and villages of the world and a great hall full of
hermetic powder, one drachm of which would turn a thousand
drachms of silver into fine gold; likewise a marvellous great
round mirror of mixed metals, made for Solomon son of David (on
whom be peace), wherein whoso looked might see the very image and
presentment of the seven divisions of the world, and a chamber
full of carbuncles, such as no words can suffice to set forth,
many camel-loads. So he despatched all these things to Welid ben
Abdulmelik, and the Arabs spread all over the cities of Spain,
which is one of the finest of lands. This is the end of the story
of the City of Lebtait.


The Khalif Hisham ben Abdulmelik ben Merwan was hunting one day,
when he sighted an antelope and pursued it with his dogs. As he
was following the chase, he saw an Arab youth pasturing sheep and
said to him, 'Ho, boy, up and stop yonder antelope, for it
escapeth me!' The youth raised his head and replied, 'O ignorant
of the worth of the worthy,[FN#125] thou lookest on me with
disdain and speakest to me with contempt; thy speech is that of a
tyrant and thy conduct that of an ass.' 'Out on thee,' cried
Hisham. 'Dost thou not know me?' 'Verily,' rejoined the youth,
'thine unmannerliness hath made thee known to me, in that thou
spokest to me, without beginning by the salutation."[FN#126] 'Out
on thee!' repeated the Khalif. 'I am Hisham ben Abdulmelik.' 'May
God not favour thy dwellings,' replied the Arab, 'nor guard
thine abiding-place! How many are thy words and how few thy
generosities!' Hardly had he spoken, when up came the troops from
all sides and surrounded him, saying, 'Peace be on thee, O
Commander of the Faithful!' Quoth Hisham, 'Leave this talk and
seize me yonder boy.' So they laid hands on him; and when he saw
the multitude of chamberlains and viziers and officers of state,
he was in nowise concerned and questioned not of them, but let
his chin fall on his breast and looked where his feet fell, till
they brought him to the Khalif,[FN#127] when he stood before him,
with head bowed down, and saluted him not neither spoke. So one
of the attendants said to him, 'O dog of the Arabs, what ails
thee that thou salutest not the Commander of the Faithful?' The
youth turned to him angrily and replied, 'O packsaddle of an ass,
the length of the way it was that hindered me from this and the
steepness of the steps and sweat.' Then said Hisham (and indeed
he was exceeding wroth), 'O boy, thou art come to thy last hour;
thy hope is gone from thee and thy life is past.' 'By Allah, O
Hisham,' answered the Arab, 'if the time[FN#128] be prolonged and
its cutting short be not ordained of destiny, thy words irk me
not, be they much or little.' Then said the (chief) chamberlain
to him, 'O vilest of the Arabs, what art thou to bandy words with
the Commander of the Faithful?' He answered promptly, 'Mayest
thou meet with adversity and may woe and mourning never depart
from thee! Hast thou not heard the saying of God the Most
High? "One day, every soul shall come to give an account of
itself."'[FN#129] "At this, Hisham rose, in great wrath, and
said, 'O headsman, bring me his head; for indeed he multiplies
talk, such as passes conception, and fears not reproach.' So the
headsman took him and making him kneel on the carpet of blood,
drew his sword and said to the Khalif, 'O Commander of the
Faithful, shall I smite off the head of this thy misguided slave,
who is on the way to his grave, and be quit of his blood?' 'Yes,'
replied Hisham. He repeated his question and the Khalif again
replied in the affirmative. Then he asked leave a third time, and
the youth, knowing that, if the Khalif assented yet once more, it
would be the signal of his death, laughed till his wang-teeth
appeared; at which Hisham's wrath redoubled and he said to him,
'O boy, meseems thou art mad; seest thou not that thou art about
to depart the world? Why then dost thou laugh in mockery of
thyself?' 'O Commander of the Faithful,' answered the young Arab,
'if my life is to be prolonged, none can hurt me, great or small;
but I have bethought me of some verses, which do thou hear, for
my death cannot escape thee.' 'Say on and be brief,' replied
Hisham; so the Arab repeated the following verses: A hawk once
seized a sparrow, so have I heard men say, A sparrow of the
desert, that fate to him did throw; And as the hawk was flying to
nestward with his prize, The sparrow in his clutches did thus
bespeak his foe: "There's nought in me the stomach of such as
thou to stay; Indeed, I'm all too paltry to fill thy maw, I
trow." The hawk was pleased and flattered with pride and self
conceit; He smiled for self-contentment and let the sparrow go.
At this Hisham smiled and said, 'By my kinship to the Prophet
(whom God bless and preserve), had he spoken thus at first, I had
given him all he asked, except the Khalifate!' Then he bade his
servants stuff his mouth with jewels and entreat him courteously;
so they did as he bade them and the Arab went his way.


When the Khalifate fell to El Mamoun the son of Haroun er Reshid,
the latter's brother Ibrahim, son of El Mehdi, refused to
acknowledge his nephew and betook himself to Er Rei,[FN#130]
where he proclaimed himself Khalif and abode thus a year and
eleven months and twelve days. Meanwhile Mamoun remained
awaiting his return to allegiance, till, at last, despairing of
this, he mounted with his horsemen and footmen and repaired to Er
Rei in quest of him. When the news came to Ibrahim, he found
nothing for it but to flee to Baghdad and hide there, fearing for
his life; and Mamoun set a price of a hundred thousand dinars
upon his head.

(Quoth Ibrahim) 'Now when I heard of this price being set upon my
head, I feared for myself and knew not what to do: so I disguised
myself and went forth of my house at midday, knowing not whither
I should go. Presently, I entered a street that had no issue and
said in myself, "Verily, we are God's and to Him we return! I
have exposed myself to destruction. If I retrace my steps, I
shall arouse suspicion." Then I espied, at the upper end of the
street, a negro standing at his door; so I went up to him and
said to him, "Hast thou a place where I may abide awhile of the
day?" "Yes," answered he, and opening the door, admitted me into
a decent house, furnished with carpets and mats and cushions of
leather. Then he shut the door on me and went away; and I
misdoubted me he had heard of the reward offered for me and said
in myself, "He has gone to inform against me." But, as I sat
pondering my case and boiling like the pot over the fire, my host
came back, followed by a porter loaded with meat and bread and
new cooking-pots and goblets and a new jar and other needful
gear. He took them from the porter and dismissing him, said to
me, "I make myself thy ransom! I am a barber-surgeon, and I know
it would mislike thee to eat with me, because of the way in which
I get my living; so do thou shift for thyself with these things
whereon no hand hath fallen." Now I was anhungred; so I cooked
me a pot of meat, whose like I mind me not ever to have eaten;
and when I had done my desire, he said to me, "O my lord, God
make me thy ransom! Art thou for wine? Indeed, it gladdens the
soul and does away care." "I have no objection," replied I,
being desirous of his company; so he brought me new flagons of
glass, that no hand had touched, and a jar of excellent wine,
and said to me, "Mix for thyself, to thy liking." So I cleared
the wine and mixed myself a most pleasant draught. Then he
brought me a new cup and fruits and flowers in new vessels of
earthenware; after which he said to me, "Wilt thou give me leave
to sit apart and drink of wine of my own by myself, of my joy in
thee and for thee?" "Do so." answered I. So we drank, he and
I, till the wine began to take effect upon us, when he rose and
going to a closet, took out a lute of polished wood and said to
me, "O my lord, it is not for the like of me to ask thee to sing,
but it behoves thine exceeding generosity to render my respect
its due; so, an thou see fit to honour thy slave, thine is the
august decision." Quoth I (and indeed I thought not that he knew
me), "How knowest thou that I excel in song?" "Glory be to God!"
answered he. "Our lord is too well renowned for that![FN#131]
Thou art my lord Ibrahim, son of El Mehdi, our Khalif of
yesterday, he on whose head Mamoun hath set a price of a hundred
thousand dinars: but thou art in safety with me." When I heard
him say this, he was magnified in my eyes and his loyalty was
certified to me; so I complied with his wish and took the lute
and tuned it. Then I bethought me of my severance from my
children and my family and sang the following verses:

It may be that He, who restored his folk to Joseph of old And
raised him to high estate from the prison where in bonds he
Will hear our prayer and unite us; for Allah, the Lord of the
worlds, All-powerful is, and His puissance knows neither let
nor stay.

When the barber heard this, exceeding delight took possession of
him and he was of great good cheer; (for it is said that when
Ibrahim's neighbours heard him [but] say, "Ho, boy, saddle the
mule!" they were filled with delight). Then, being overborne by
mirth, he said to me (continues Ibrahim), "O my lord, wilt thou
give me leave to say what is come to my mind, for all I am not of
the folk of the craft?" "Do so," answered I; "this is of thy
great courtesy and kindness." So he took the lute and sang the
following verses:

Unto our loved ones we made our moan of our nights so long and
drear; And lo, "How short is the night with us!" quoth they
we hold so dear.
This is because quick-coming sleep closes their happy eyes, But
slumber comes not to close our lids, that burn with many a
When the night approaches, the night so dread and drear to those
that love, We are oppressed with grief; but they rejoice,
when the night draws near.
Had they but drunken our bitter cup and suffered of our dole,
Then were their nights as ours, as long and full of heavy

"Thou hast acquitted thee rarely, O my friend," said I, "and hast
done away from me the pangs of sorrow. Let me hear more trifles
of thy fashion." So he sang these verses:

So a man's honour be unstained and free of all impair, Lo, every
garment that he dights on him is fit and fair.
She taunted me, because, forsooth, our numbers were but few; But
I "The noble," answer made, "are ever few and rare."
It irks us nought that we are few and eke our neighbour great,
For all the neighbours of most folk are scant and mean
For we're a folk, that deem not death an evil nor reproach,
Albeit Aamir and Seloul so deem, of their despair.
The love of death that is in us brings near our ends to us, But
theirs, who loathe and rail at it, are long and far to fare.
We, an it like us, give the lie to others of their speech; But,
when we speak, no man on earth to gainsay us doth dare.

When I heard this, I was filled with delight and marvelled
exceedingly. Then I slept and awoke not till past nightfall,
when I washed my face, with a mind full of the high worth of this
barber-surgeon; after which I aroused him and taking out a purse
I had with me, containing a considerable sum of money, threw it
to him, saying, "I commend thee to God, for I am about to go
forth from thee, and beg thee to spend what is in this purse on
thine occasions; and thou shalt have an abounding reward of me,
when I am quit of my fear." But he returned it to me, saying, "O
my lord, poor wretches like myself are of no value in thine eyes;
but how, for mine own dignity's sake, can I take a price for the
boon which fortune hath vouchsafed me of thy favour and company?
By Allah, if thou repeat thy words and throw the purse to me
again, I will kill myself." So I put the purse in my sleeve (and
indeed its weight was irksome to me) and would have gone away;
but when I came to the door of the house, he said to me, "O my
lord, this is a safer hiding-place for thee than another, and thy
keep is no burden to me; so do thou abide with me, till God grant
thee relief." So I turned back, saying, "On condition that thou
spend of the money in this purse." He let me believe that he
consented to this, and I abode with him some days in the utmost
comfort; but, perceiving that he spent none of the contents of
the purse, I revolted at the idea of abiding at his charge and
thought shame to be a burden on him; so I disguised myself in
women's apparel, donning walking-boots and veil, and left his

When I found myself in the street, I was seized with excessive
fear, and going to pass the bridge, came to a place sprinkled
with water, where a trooper, who had been in my service, saw me
and knowing me, cried out, saying, "This is he whom Mamoun
seeks!" Then he laid hold of me, but the love of life lent me
strength and I gave him a push, which threw him and his horse
down in that slippery place, so that he became an example to
those who will take warning and the folk hastened to him.
Meanwhile, I hurried on over the bridge and entered a street,
where I saw the door of a house open and a woman standing in the
vestibule. So I said to her, "O my lady, have pity on me and
save my life; for I am a man in fear." Quoth she, "Enter and
welcome;" and carried me into an upper chamber, where she spread
me a bed and brought me food, saying, "Calm thy fear, for not a
soul shall know of thee." As she spoke, there came a loud
knocking at the door; so she went and opened, and lo, it was my
friend whom I had thrown down on the bridge, with his head bound
up, the blood running down upon his clothes and without his
horse. "O so and so," said she, "what hath befallen thee?"
Quoth he, "I made prize of the man [whom the Khalif seeks] and he
escaped from me." And told her the whole story. So she brought
out tinder and applying it to his head, bound it up with a piece
of rag; after which she spread him a bed and he lay sick. Then
she came up to me and said, "Methinks thou art the man in
question?" "I am," answered I, and she said, "Fear not: no harm
shall befall thee," and redoubled in kindness to me.

I abode with her three days, at the end of which time she said to
me, "I am in fear for thee, lest yonder man happen upon thee and
betray thee to what thou dreadest; so save thyself by flight." I
besought her to let me tarry till nightfall, and she said, "There
is no harm in that." So, when the night came, I put on my
woman's attire and taking leave of her, betook me to the house of
a freed woman, who had once been mine. When she saw me, she wept
and made a show of affliction and praised God the Most High for
my safety. Then she went forth, as if she would go to the
market, in the interests of hospitality, and I thought no harm;
but, ere long, I espied Ibrahim el Mausili[FN#132] making for the
house, with his servants and troopers, led by a woman whom I
knew for the mistress of the house. She brought them to my
hiding-place and delivered me into their hands, and I saw death
face to face. They carried me, in my woman's attire, to Mamoun,
who called a general council and let bring me before him. When I
entered I saluted him by the title of Khalif, saying, "Peace be
on thee, O Commander of the Faithful!" and he replied, "May God
neither give thee peace nor bless thee!" "At thy leisure, O
Commander of the Faithful!" rejoined I. "It is for him in whose
hand is revenge[FN#133] to decree retaliation or forgiveness; but
forgiveness is nigher to the fear of God, and God hath set thy
forgiveness above all other, even as He hath made my sin to excel
all other sin. So, if thou punish, it is of thy right, and if
thou pardon, it is of thy bounty." And I repeated the following

Great is my sin, in sooth, 'gainst thee, But thou art greater
still, perdie.
So take thy due of me, or else Remit it of thy clemency.
If of the noble I've not been Indeed, yet do thou of them be.

At this he raised his head to me and I hastened to add these

Indeed, I've offended full sore, But thou art disposed to
'Twere justice to punish my crime And grace to allow me to live.

Then he bowed his head and repeated the following verses:

Whenas a friend against me doth grievously offend And maketh me
with anger to choke, yet in the end,
I pardon his offending and take him back again Into my favour,
fearing to live without a friend.

When I heard this, I scented the odour of mercy, knowing his
disposition to clemency. Then he turned to his son El Abbas and
his brother Abou Ishac and other his chief officers there
present and said to them, "What deem ye of his case!" They all
counselled him to slay me, but differed as to the manner of my
death. Then said he to Ahmed ibn Ali Khalid,[FN#134] "And what
sayst thou, O Ahmed?" "O Commander of the Faithful," answered
he, "if thou put him to death, we find thy like who hath slain
the like of him; but, if thou pardon him, we find not the like of
thee that hath pardoned the like of him." At this Mamoun bowed
his head and repeated the following verse:

The people of my tribe, they have my brother slain; But, an I
shoot, my shaft reverts to me again.

And also these:

Use not thy brother with despite, Although he mingle wrong with
And still be kind to him, all be With thanklessness he thee
And if he go astray and err One day, revile thou not the wight.
Seest not that loved and loathed at once In every way of life
That by the annoy of hoary hairs Embittered is long life's
And that the bristling thorns beset The branch with pleasant
fruits bedight?
Who is it doth good deeds alone And who hath never wrought
Prove but the age's sons, thou'lt find The most have fallen from
the light.

When I heard this, I uncovered my head and cried out, saying,
"God is most great! By Allah, the Commander of the Faithful
pardons me!" Quoth he, "No harm shall come to thee, O uncle."
And I, "O Commander of the Faithful, my offence is too great for
me to attempt to extenuate it and thy pardon is too great for me
to speak a word of thanks for it." And I chanted the following

Sure, He, who made the virtues all, stored them in Adam's loins
For His high-priest, the seventh prince of Abbas' royal
The hearts of all the folk are filled with reverence for thee,
And thou, with meek and humble heart, dost keep them all and
Error-deluded as I was, against thee I rebelled, Intent on
covetise alone and base ambitious greed;
Yet hast thou pardon giv'n to one, the like of whom before Was
never pardoned, though for him no one with thee did plead,
And on a mother's bleeding heart hadst ruth and little ones, Like
to the desert-grouse's young, didst pity in their need.

Quoth Mamoun, "I say, like our lord Joseph (on whom and on our
Prophet be peace and blessing), 'There shall be no reproach on
thee this day. God will forgive thee, for He is the Most
Merciful of the Merciful ones.'[FN#135] Indeed, I pardon thee, O
uncle, and restore thee thy goods and lands, and no harm shall
befall thee." So I offered up devout prayers for him and
repeated the following verses:

My wealth thou hast given me again and hast not begrudged it to
me; Yea, and to boot, before this, my life and my blood thou
didst spare.
So if, thine approval to win, I lavish my blood and my wealth And
e'en to the shoe off my foot, in thy service, I strip myself
'Twere but the restoring to thee of the loans that I owe to thy
grace Which none might reproach thee nor blame, I trow,
hadst thou chos'n to forbear.
Ungrateful henceforth if I prove for the favours vouchsafed me by
thee, Still worthier of blame than thyself of honour and
reverence I were.

Then Mamoun showed me honour and favour and said to me, "O uncle,
Abou Ishac and Abbas counselled me to put thee to death." "And
they counselled thee right loyally, O Commander of the Faithful,"
answered I; "but thou hast done after thine own nature and hast
put away what I feared with what I hoped." "O uncle," rejoined
he, "thou didst extinguish my rancour with the humbleness of
thine excuse, and I pardon thee without making thee drink the
bitterness of obligation to intercessors." Then he prostrated
himself in prayer a long while, after which he raised his head
and said to me, "O uncle, knowest thou why I prostrated myself?"
"Haply," answered I, "thou didst this in thanksgiving to God, for
that He hath given thee the mastery over thine enemy." "Not so,"
rejoined he, "but to thank Him for having inspired me to pardon
thee and purified my mind towards thee. Now tell me thy story."
So I told him all that had befallen me and he sent for the
freed-woman, who was in her house, expecting the reward. When
she came, he said to her, "What moved thee to deal thus with thy
lord?" And she answered, "Lust of money." "Hast thou a child or
a husband?" asked the Khalif; and she said, "No." So he bade
give her a hundred blows with a whip and imprisoned her for life.
Then he sent for the soldier and his wife and the barber-surgeon
and asked the former what had moved him to do thus. "Lust of
money," answered he; whereupon quoth the Khalif, "It befits that
thou be a barber-surgeon,"[FN#136] and committed him to one whom
he charged to place him in a barber's shop, where he might learn
the craft. But his wife he entreated with honour and lodged in
his palace, saying, "This is a woman of sense and apt for matters
of moment." Then said he to the barber-surgeon, "Verily, what
has come to light of thy worth and generosity calls for
extraordinary honour." So he commanded the trooper's house and
all that was therein to be given him and bestowed on him a dress
of honour and fifteen thousand dinars.'


It is related that Abdallah ben Abou Kilabeh went forth in quest
of a camel that had strayed from him; and as he was wandering in
the deserts of Yemen and Sebaa, he came upon a great city in
whose midst was a vast citadel compassed about with pavilions,
that rose high into the air. He made for the place, thinking to
find there inhabitants, of whom he might enquire concerning his
camel; but, when he reached it, he found it deserted, without a
living soul in it. So (quoth Abdallah), 'I alighted and hobbling
my she-camel, took courage and entered the city. When I came to
the citadel, I found it had two vast gates, never in the world
was seen their like for size and loftiness, inlaid with all
manner jewels and jacinths, white and red and yellow and green.
At this I marvelled greatly and entering the citadel, trembling
and dazed with wonder and affright, found it long and wide, as it
were a city[FN#137] for bigness; and therein were lofty storied
pavilions, builded of gold and silver and inlaid with many-
coloured jewels and jacinths and chrysolites and pearls. The
leaves of their doors were even as those of the citadel for
beauty and their floors strewn with great pearls and balls, as
they were hazel-nuts, of musk and ambergris and saffron. When I
came within the city and saw no human being therein, I had nigh-
well swooned and died for fear. Moreover, I looked down from the
summit of the towers and balconies and saw rivers running under
them; in the streets were fruit-laden trees and tall palms, and
the manner of the building of the city was one brick of gold and
one of silver. So I said to myself, "Doubtless this is the
Paradise promised for the world to come." Then I took of the
jewels of its gravel and the musk of its dust as much as I could
bear and returned to my own country, where I told the folk what I
had seen.

After awhile, the news reached Muawiyeh ben Abou Sufyan, who was
then Khalif in the Hejaz; so he wrote to his lieutenant in Senaa
of Yemen to send for the teller of the story and question him of
the truth of the case. Accordingly the lieutenant sent for me and
questioned me, and I told him what I had seen; whereupon he
despatched me to Muawiyeh, to whom I repeated my story; but he
would not credit it. So I brought out to him some of the pearls
and balls of musk and ambergris and saffron, in which latter
there was still some sweet smell; but the pearls were grown
yellow and discoloured. The Khalif wondered at this and sending
for Kaab el Ahbar,[FN#138], said to him, "O Kaab el Ahbar, I have
sent for thee to learn the truth of a certain matter and hope
that thou wilt be able to certify me thereanent." "What is it, O
Commander of the Faithful?" asked Kaab, and Muawiyeh said,
"Wottest thou of a city builded of gold and silver, the pillars
whereof are of rubies and chrysolites and its gravel pearls and
balls of musk and ambergris and saffron?" "Yes, O Commander of
the Faithful," answered Kaab. "It is Irem of the Columns, the
like of which was never made in the lands,'[FN#139] and it was
Sheddad son of Aad the Great that built it." Quoth the Khalif,
"Tell us of its history," and Kaab said, "Aad the Great had two
sons, Shedid and Sheddad. When their father died, they ruled in
his stead, and there was no king of the kings of the earth but
was subject to them. After awhile Shedid died and his brother
Sheddad reigned over the earth alone. Now he was fond of reading
in old books, and happening upon the description of the world to
come and of Paradise, with its pavilions and galleries and trees
and fruits and so forth, his soul moved him to build the like
thereof in this world, after the fashion aforesaid.[FN#140] Now
under his hand were a hundred thousand kings, each ruling over a
hundred thousand captains, commanding each a hundred thousand
warriors; so he called these all before him and said to them, 'I
find in old books and histories a description of Paradise, as it
is to be in the next world, and I desire to build its like in
this world. Go ye forth therefore to the goodliest and most
spacious tract in the world and build me there a city of gold and
silver, whose gravel shall be rubies and chrysolites and pearls
and the columns of its vaults beryl. Fill it with palaces,
whereon ye shall set galleries and balconies, and plant its lanes
and thoroughfares with all manner of trees bearing ripe fruits
and make rivers to run through it in channels of gold and
silver.' 'How can we avail to do this thing,' answered they, 'and
whence shall we get the chrysolites and rubies and pearls whereof
thou speakest?' Quoth he, 'Know ye not that all the kings of the
word are under my hand and that none that is therein dare gainsay
my commandment?' 'Yes,' answered they; 'we know that.' 'Get ye
then,' rejoined he, 'to the mines of chrysolites and rubies and
gold and silver and to the pearl-fisheries and gather together
all that is in the world of jewels and metals of price and leave
nought; and take also for me such of these things as be in men's
hands and let nothing escape you: be diligent and beware of

Then he wrote letters to all the [chief] kings of the world (now
the number of kings then reigning [in chief] over the earth was
three hundred and threescore kings) and bade them gather together
all of these things that were in their subjects' hands and get
them to the mines of precious stones and metals and bring forth
all that was therein, even from the abysses of the seas. This
they accomplished in the space of twenty years, and Sheddad then
assembled from all lands and countries builders and men of art
and labourers and handicraftsmen, who dispersed over the world
and explored all the wastes and deserts thereof, till they came
to a vast and fair open plain, clear of hills and mountains, with
springs welling and rivers running, and said, 'This is even such
a place as the King commanded us to find.' So they busied
themselves in building the city even as Sheddad, King of the
whole earth in its length and breadth, had commanded them, laying
the foundations and leading the rivers therethrough in channels
after the prescribed fashion. Moreover, all the Kings of the
earth sent thither jewels and precious stones and pearls large
and small and cornelian and gold and silver upon camels by land
and in great ships over the waters, and there came to the
builders' hands of all these things so great a quantity as may
neither be told or imagined. They laboured at the work three
hundred years; and when they had wrought it to end, they went to
King Sheddad and acquainted him therewith. Then said he, 'Depart
and make thereto an impregnable citadel, rising high into the
air, and round it a thousand pavilions, each builded on a
thousand columns of chrysolite and ruby and vaulted with gold,
that in each pavilion may dwell a Vizier.' So they returned and
did this in other twenty years; after which they again presented
themselves before the King and informed him of the accomplishment
of his will. Then he commanded his Viziers, who were a thousand
in number, and his chief officers and such of his troops and
others as he put trust in, to prepare for departure and removal
to Many-Columned Irem, at the stirrup of Sheddad son of Aad, king
of the world; and he bade also such as he would of his women and
of his female slaves and eunuchs make them ready for the journey.
They spent twenty years preparing for departure, at the end of
which time Sheddad set out with his host, rejoicing in the
attainment of his wish, and fared forward till there remained but
one day's journey between him and Item. Then God sent down on him
and on the stubborn unbelievers with him a thunderblast from the
heavens of His power, which destroyed them all with a mighty
clamour, and neither he nor any of his company set eyes on the
city. Moreover, God blotted out the road that led to the city,
and it stands unchanged, in its stead, until the Resurrection

Muawiyeh wondered greatly ad Kaab's story and said to him, "Hath
any mortal ever made his way to the city?" "Yes," answered Kaab;
"one of the companions of Mohammed (on whom be peace and
salvation) reached it, doubtless after the same fashion as this
man who sits here." And (quoth Es Shaabi) it is related, on the
authority of learned men of Himyer of Yemen, that Sheddad was
succeeded in his kingship by his son Sheddad the Less, whom he
left his viceregent in Hezremout and Sebaa, when he set out for
Irem. When he heard of his father's death on the road, he caused
his body to be brought back to Hezremout and let hew him out a
sepulchre in a cavern, where he laid the body on a throne of gold
and threw over it threescore and ten robes of cloth of gold,
embroidered with precious stones; and at his head he set up a
tablet of gold, on which were graven the following verses:

Take warning, thou that by long life Art duped and thinkst to
live alway.
I'm Sheddad son of Aad, a high And mighty monarch in my day;
Lord of the columned citadel, Great was my prowess in the fray.
All the world's peoples feared my might And did my ordinance
Yes, and I held the East and West And ruled them with an iron
One[FN#141] came to us with God's command And summoned us to the
right way
"Is there no 'scaping from this thing?" Quoth we and did his word
Then on us fell a thunderblast From out the heaven far away,
And like the sheaves in reaping-time Midmost a field, o'erthrown
we lay.
And now beneath the storied plains Of earth we wait the appointed

(Quoth Eth Thaalibi also) It chanced that two men once entered
this cavern and found at its upper end a stair; so they descended
and came to an underground chamber, a hundred cubits long by
forth wide and a hundred high. In the midst stood a throne of
gold, whereon lay a man of gigantic stature, filling the whole
length and breadth of the throne. He was covered with jewelry and
raiment gold and silver wrought, and at his head was a tablet of
gold, bearing an inscription. So they took the tablet and bore it
off, together with as many bars of gold and silver and so forth
as they could away with.


(Quoth Isaac of Mosul[FN#142]) 'I went out one night from
Mamoun's presence, on my way to my house, and being taken with a
need to make water, I turned aside into a by-street and stood up
against a wall, fearing lest something might hurt me, if I
squatted down. Presently, I espied something hanging down from
one of the houses and feeling it, found that it was a great four-
handled basket, covered with brocade. "There must be some reason
for this," said I to myself and knew not what to think, then
drunkenness led me to seat myself in the basket, whereupon the
people of the house pulled me up, supposing me to be he whom they
expected. When I came to the top of the wall, I found four
damsels, who said to me, "Descend and welcome!" Then one of them
went before me with a flambeau and brought me down into a
mansion, wherein were furnished sitting-chambers, whose like I
had never seen, save in the Khalif's palace. So I sat down and
after awhile, the curtains were drawn from one side of the room
and in came damsels bearing lighted flambeaux and censers full of
Sumatran aloes-wood, and amongst them a young lady as she were
the rising full moon. I rose and she said, "Welcome to thee for a
visitor!" Then she made me sit down again and asked how I came
thither. Quoth I, "I was returning home from a friend's house and
went astray in the dark; then, being taken with an urgent
occasion, I turned aside into this street, where I found a basket
let down. The wine which I had drunk led me to seat myself in it
and it was drawn up with me into this house." "No harm shall
befall thee," rejoined she, "and I hope thou wilt have cause to
praise the issue of thine adventure. But what is thy condition?"
"I am a merchant in the Baghdad bazaar," replied I, and she,
"Canst thou repeat any verses?" "Some small matter," answered I.
"Then," said she, "let us hear some of them." But I said, "A
visitor is [naturally] bashful; do thou begin." "True," answered
she and recited some of the choicest verses of the poets, past
and present, so that I knew not whether more to marvel at her
beauty and grace or at the charm of her diction. Then said she,
"Is thy bashfulness gone?" "Yes, by Allah!" answered I. "Then, if
thou wilt," rejoined she, "recite us somewhat." So I repeated to
her a number of poems by old writers, and she applauded, saying,
"By Allah I did not look to find such culture among the trader

Then she called for food and fell to taking of it and setting it
before me; and the place was full of all manner sweet-scented
flowers and rare fruits, such as are found only in kings' houses.
Presently, she called for wine and drank a cup, after which she
filled another and gave it to me, saying, "Now is the time for
converse and story-telling." So I bethought myself and related to
her a number of pleasing stories and anecdotes, with which she
was delighted and said, "It is wonderful that a merchant should
have such store of tales like unto these, for they are fit for
kings." Quoth I, "I have a neighbour who uses to consort with
kings and bear them company at table; so, when he is at leisure,
I visit his house and he often tells me what he has heard." "By
my life," exclaimed she, "thou hast a good memory!"

We continued to converse thus, and as often as I was silent, she
would begin, till the most part of the night was spent, whilst
the burning aloes-wood diffused its fragrance and I was in such
case as, if the Khalif had suspected it, would have made him wild
with longing for it. Then said she to me, "Verily, thou art one
of the most pleasant and accomplished of men and passing well-
bred; but there lacks one thing." "What is that?" asked I, and
she said, "If but thou knewest how to sing verses to the lute!" I
answered, "I was once passionately fond of this art, but finding
I had no gift for it, I abandoned it, thou reluctantly. Indeed, I
should love to sing somewhat well at this present and fulfil my
night's enjoyment." "Meseemeth thou hintest a wish for the lute
to be brought?" said she, and I, "It is thine to decide, if thou
wilt so far favour me, and to thee be the thanks." So she called
for a lute and sang a song, in a manner whose like I never heard,
both for sweetness of voice and perfection of style and skill in
playing, in short, for general excellence. Then said she,
"Knowest thou who made the air and words of this song?" "No,"
answered I; and she said, "The words are so and so's and the air
is Isaac's." "And hath Isaac then (may I be thy ransom!) such a
talent?" asked I. "Glory be to Isaac!" replied she. "Indeed he
excels in this art." "Glory be to Allah," exclaimed I, "who hath
given this man what He hath vouchsafed unto none other!" And she
said, "How would it be, if thou heardest this song from himself?"
Thus did we till break of day, when there came to her an old
woman, as she were her nurse, and said to her, "The time is
come." So she rose and said to me, "Keep what hath passed between
us to thyself; for meetings of this kind are in confidence." "May
I be thy ransom!" answered I. "I needed no enjoinder of this."
Then I took leave of her and she sent a damsel to open the door
to me; so I went forth and retuned to my own house, where I
prayed the morning prayer and slept.

Presently, there came to me a messenger from the Khalif; so I
went to him and passed the day in his company. When the night
came, I called to mind my yesternight's pleasure, a thing from
which none but a fool could be content to abstain, and betook
myself to the street, where I found the basket, and seating
myself therein, was drawn up to the place in which I had passed
the previous night. When the lady saw me, she said, "Indeed, thou
art assiduous," And I answered, "Meseems rather that I am
neglectful." Then we fell to conversing and passed the night as
before in talking and reciting verses and telling rare stories,
each in turn, till daybreak, when I returned home. I prayed the
morning prayer and slept, and there came to me a messenger from
Mamoun. So I went to him and spent the day with him till
nightfall, when he said to me, "I conjure thee to sit here,
whilst I go on an occasion and come back." As soon as he was
gone, my thoughts turned to the lady and calling to mind my late
delight, I recked little what might befall me from the Commander
of the Faithful. So I sprang up and going out, ran to the street
aforesaid, where I sat down in the basket and was drawn up as
before. When the lady saw me, she said, "Verily, thou art a
sincere friend to us." "Yea, by Allah!" answered I; and she said,
"Hath thou made our house thine abiding-place?" "May I be thy
ransom!" replied I. "A guest hath a right to three days'
entertainment, and if I return after this, ye are free to shed my
blood." Then we passed the night as before; and when the time of
departure drew near, I bethought me that Mamoun would certainly
question me nor be content save with a full explanation: so I
said to her, "I see thee to be of those who delight in singing.
Now I have a cousin who is handsomer than I and higher of station
and more accomplished; and he is the most intimate of all God's
creatures with Isaac." "Art thou a spunger?" asked she. "Verily,
thou art importunate." Quoth I, "It is for thee to decide;" and
she, "If thy cousin be as thou sayst, it would not displease me
to make his acquaintance."

Then I left her and returned to my house, but hardly had I
reached it, when the Khalif's messengers came down on me and
carried me before him by main force. I found him seated on a
chair, wroth with me, and he said to me, "O Isaac, art thou a
traitor to thine allegiance?" "No, by Allah, O Commander of the
Faithful!" answered I. "What hast thou then to say?" asked he.
"Tell me the truth." And I replied, "I will well; but in
private." So he signed to his attendants, who withdrew to a
distance, and I told him the case, adding, "I promised to bring
thee to visit her." And he said, "Thou didst well." Then we spent
the day in our usual pleasures, but Mamoun's heart was taken with
the lady, and hardly was the appointed time come, when we set
out. As we went along, I cautioned him, "Look that thou call me
not by my name before her; but do thou sing and I will accompany
thee." He assented to this, and we fared on till we came to the
house, where we found two baskets hanging ready. So we sat down
in them and were drawn up to the usual place, where the damsel
came forward and saluted us. When Mamoun saw her, he was amazed
at her beauty and grace; and she began to entertain him with
stories and verses. Presently, she called for wine and we fell to
drinking, she paying him especial attention and delighting in him
and he repaying her in kind. Then he took the lute and sang an
air, after which she said to me, "And is thy cousin also a
merchant?" "Yes," answered I, and she said, "Indeed, ye resemble
one another nearly." But when Mamoun had drunk three pints, he
grew merry with wine and called out saying, "Ho, Isaac!" "At thy
service, O Commander of the Faithful," answered I. Quoth he,
"Sing me such an air."

As soon as the lady knew that he was the Khalif, she withdrew to
another place, and when I had made an end of my song, Mamoun said
to me, "See who is the master of this house;" whereupon an old
woman hastened to make answer, saying, "It belongs to Hassan ben
Sehl."[FN#143] "Fetch him to me," said the Khalif. So she went
away and after awhile in came Hassan, to whom said Mamoun, "Hath
thou a daughter?" "Yes," answered he; "her name is Khedijeh." "Is
she married?" asked the Khalif. "No, by Allah!" replied Hassan.
"Then," said Mamoun, "I ask her of thee in marriage." "O
Commander of the Faithful," replied Hassan, "she is thy
handmaiden and at thy commandment." Quoth Mamoun, "I take her to
wife at a present dower of thirty thousand dinars, which thou
shalt receive this very morning; and do thou being her to us this
next night." And Hassan answered, "I hear and obey."

'Then he went out, and the Khalif said to me, "O Isaac, tell this
story to no one." So I kept it secret till Mamoun's death. Surely
never was man's life to fulfilled with delights as was mine these
four days' time, whenan I companied with Mamoun by day and with
Khedijeh by night; and by Allah, never saw I among men the like
of Mamoun, neither among women have I ever set eyes on the like
of Khedijeh, no, nor on any that came near her in wit and
understanding and pleasant speech!'


At Mecca, one day, in the season of pilgrimage, whilst the people
were making the enjoined circuits about the Holy House and the
place of compassing was crowded, a man laid hold of the covering
of the Kaabeh and cried out, from the bottom of his heart,
saying, 'I beseech Thee, O God, that she may once again be wroth
with her husband and that I may lie with her!' A company of the
pilgrims heard him and falling on him, loaded him with blows and
carried him to the governor of the pilgrims, to whom said they,
'O Amir, we found this man in the Holy Places, saying thus and
thus.' The governor commanded to hang him; but he said, 'O Amir,
I conjure thee, by the virtue of the Prophet (whom God bless and
preserve), hear my story and after do with me as thou wilt.' 'Say
on,' quoth the Amir. 'Know then, O Amir,' said the man, 'that I
am a scavenger, who works in the sheep-slaughterhouses and
carries off the blood and the offal to the rubbish-heaps.[FN#144]
One day, as I went along with my ass loaded, I saw the people
running away and one of them said to me, "Enter this alley, lest
they kill thee." Quoth I, "What ails the folk to run away?" And
he answered, "It is the eunuchs in attendance on the wife of one
of the notables, who drive the people out of her way and beat
them all, without distinction." So I turned aside with the ass
and stood, awaiting the dispersal of the crowd. Presently up came
a number of eunuchs with staves in their hands, followed by nigh
thirty women, and amongst them a lady as she were a willow-wand
or a thirsty gazelle, perfect in beauty and elegance and amorous
grace. When she came to the mouth of the passage where I stood,
she turned right and left and calling one of the eunuchs,
whispered in his ear; whereupon he came up to me and laying hold
of me, bound me with a rope and haled me along after him, whilst
another eunuch took my ass and made off with it. I knew not what
was to do and the people followed us, crying out, "This is not
allowed of God! What has this poor scavenger done that he should
be bound with ropes?" and saying to the eunuchs, "Have pity on
him and let him go, so God have pity on you!" And I the while
said in myself, "Doubtless the eunuch seized me, because his
mistress smelt the offal and it sickened her. Belike she is with
child or ailing; but there is no power and no virtue save in God
the Most High, the Supreme!" So I walked on behind them, till
they stopped at the door of a great house and entering, brought
me into a great hall, I know not how I shall describe its
goodliness, furnished with magnificent furniture. The women
withdrew to the harem, leaving me bound with the eunuch and
saying in myself, "Doubtless they will torture me here till I
die, and none know of my death." However, after a while, they
carried me into an elegant bathroom, adjoining the hall; and as I
sat there, in came three damsels, who seated themselves round me
and said to me, "Strip off thy rags." So I pulled off my
threadbare clothes, and one of them fell a-rubbing my feet,
whilst another washed my head and the third scrubbed my body.
When they had made an end of washing me, they brought me a parcel
of clothes and said to me, "Put these on." "By Allah," answered
I, "I know not how!" So they came up to me and dressed me,
laughing at me the while; after which they brought casting-
bottles, full of rose-water, and sprinkled me therewith. Then I
went out with them into another saloon, by Allah, I know not how
to set out its goodliness, for the much paintings and furniture
therein; and here I found the lady seated on a couch of Indian
cane with ivory feet and before her a number of damsels. When she
saw me, she rose and called to me; so I went up to her and she
made me sit by her side. Then she called for food, and the
damsels brought all manner rich meats, such as I never saw in all
my life; I do not even know the names of the dishes. So I ate my
fill and when the dishes had been taken away and we had washed
our hands, she called for fruits and bade me eat of them; after
which she bade one of the waiting-women bring the wine-service.
So they set on flagons of divers kinds of wine and burned
perfumes in all the censers, what while a damsel like the moon
rose and served us with wine, to the sound of the smitten
strings. We sat and drank, the lady and I, till we were warm with
wine, whilst I doubted not but that all this was an illusion of
sleep. Presently, she signed to one of the damsels to spread us a
bed in such a place, which being done, she took me by the hand
and led me thither. So I lay with her till the morning, and as
often as I pressed her in my arms, I smelt the delicious
fragrance of musk and other perfumes that exhaled from her and
could think no otherwise but that I was in Paradise or in the
mazes of a dream. When it was day, she asked me where I lodged
and I told her, "In such a place;" whereupon she gave me a
handkerchief gold and silver wrought, with somewhat tied in it,
and bade me depart, saying, "Go to the bath with this." So I
rejoiced and said to myself, "If there be but five farthings
here, it will buy me the morning meal." Then I left her, as I
were leaving Paradise, and returned to my lodging, where I opened
the handkerchief and found in it fifty dinars of gold. I buried
them in the ground and buying two farthings' worth of bread and
meat, sat down at the door and breakfasted; after which I sat
pondering my case till the time of afternoon-prayer, when a
slave-girl accosted me, saying, "My mistress calls for thee." So
I followed her to the house aforesaid and she carried me in to
the lady, before whom I kissed the earth, and she bade me sit and
called for meat and wine as on the previous day; after which I
again lay with her all night. On the morrow, she gave me a second
handkerchief, with other fifty dinars therein, and I took it and
going home, buried this also.

Thus did I eight days running, going in to her at the hour of
afternoon-prayer and leaving her at daybreak; but, on the eighth
night, as I lay with her, one of her maids came running in and
said to me, "Arise, go up into yonder closet." So I rose and went
into the closet, which was over the gate and had a window giving
upon the street in front of the house. Presently, I heard a great
clamour and tramp of horse, and looking out of the window, saw a
young man, as he were the rising moon on the night of her full,
come riding up, attended by a number of servants and soldiers. He
alighted at the door and entering, found the lady seated on the
couch in the saloon. So he kissed the earth before her, then came
up to her and kissed her hands; but she would not speak to him.
However, he ceased not to soothe her and speak her fair, till he
made his peace with her, and they lay together that night. Next
morning, the soldiers came for him and he mounted and rode away;
whereupon she came in to me and said, "Sawst thou yonder man?"
"Yes," answered I; and she said, "He is my husband, and I will
tell thee what befell me with him.

"It chanced one day that we were sitting, he and I, in the garden
within the house, when he rose from my side and was absent a long
while, till I grew tired of waiting and said to myself, 'Most
like, he is in the wardrobe.' So I went thither, but not finding
him there, went down to the kitchen, where I saw a slave-girl, of
whom I enquired for him, and she showed him to me lying with one
of the cook-maids. When I saw this, I swore a great oath that I
would do adultery with the foulest and filthiest man in Baghdad;
and the day the eunuch laid hands on thee, I had been four days
going round about the town in quest of one who should answer this
description, but found none fouler nor more filthy than thee. So
I took thee and there passed between us that which God fore-
ordained to us; and now I am quit of my oath. But," added she,
"if my husband return yet again to the cook-maid and lie with
her, I will restore thee to thy late place in my favours."

When (continued the scavenger) I heard these words from her lips,
what while she transfixed my heart with the arrows of her
glances, my tears streamed forth, till my eyelids were sore with
weeping, and I repeated the saying of the poet:

Vouchsafe me the kiss of thy left hand, I prithee, And know that
it's worthier far than thy right;
For 'tis but a little while since it was washing Sir reverence
away from the stead of delight.

Then she gave me other fifty dinars (making in all four hundred
dinars I had of her) and bade me depart. So I went out from her
and came hither, that I might pray God (blessed and exalted be
He!) to make her husband return to the cook-maid, so haply I
might be again admitted to her favours.' When the governor of the
pilgrims heard the man's story, he set him free and said to the
bystanders, 'God on you, pray for him, for indeed he is


It is related that the Khalif Haroun er Reshid, being one night
troubled with a persistent restlessness, summoned his Vizier
Jaafer the Barmecide and said to him, 'My heart is straitened and
I have a mind to divert myself tonight by walking about the
streets of Baghdad and looking into the affairs of the folk; but
we will disguise ourselves as merchants, that none may know us.'
'I hear and obey,' answered Jaafer. So they rose at once and
putting off the rich clothes they wore, donned merchants' habits
and sallied forth, the Khalif and Jaafer and Mesrour the
headsman. They walked from place to place, till they came to the
Tigris and saw an old man sitting in a boat; so they went up to
him and saluting him, said, 'O old man, we desire thee of thy
favour to carry us a-pleasuring down the river, in this thy boat,
and take this dinar to thy hire.' 'Who may go a-pleasuring on the
Tigris?' replied the boatman. 'Seeing that the Khalif every night
comes down the stream in his barge, and with him one crying
aloud, "Ho, all ye people, great and small, gentle and simple,
men and boys, whoso is found in a boat on the Tigris [by night],
I will strike off his head or hang him to the mast of his boat!"
And ye had well-nigh met him; for here comes his barge.' But the
Khalif and Jaafer said, 'O old man, take these two dinars, and
when thou seest the Khalif's barge approaching, run us under one
of the arches, that we may hide there till he have passed. 'Hand
over the money,' replied the boatman; 'and on God the Most High
be our dependence!' So they gave him the two dinars and embarked
in the boat; and he put off and rowed about with them awhile,
till they saw the barge coming down the river in mid-stream, with
lighted flambeaux and cressets therein. Quoth the boatman, 'Did I
not tell you that the Khalif passed every night? O Protector,
remove not the veils of Thy protection!' So saying, he ran the
boat under an arch and threw a piece of black cloth over the
Khalif and his companions, who looked out from under the covering
and saw, in the bows of the barge, a man holding a cresset of red
gold and clad in a tunic of red satin, with a muslin turban on
his head. Over one of his shoulders hung a cloak of yellow
brocade, and on the other was a green silk bag full of Sumatran
aloes-wood, with which he fed the cresset by way of firewood. In
the stern stood another man, clad like the first and bearing a
like cresset, and in the barge were two hundred white slaves,
standing right and left about a throne of red gold, on which sat
a handsome young man, like the moon, clad in a dress of black,
embroidered with yellow gold. Before him they saw a man, as he
were the Vizier Jaafer, and at his head stood an eunuch, as he
were Mesrour, with a drawn sword in his hand, besides a score of
boon-companions. When the Khalif saw this, he turned to Jaafer
and said to him, 'Belike this is one of my sons, El Amin or El
Mamoun.' Then he examined the young man that sat on the throne,
and finding him accomplished in beauty and grace and symmetry,
said to Jaafer, 'Verily, this young man abates no jot of the
state of the Khalifate! See, there stands before him one as he
were thyself, O Jaafer; yonder eunuch is as he were Mesrour and
those boon-companions as they were my own. By Allah, O Jaafer, my
reason is confounded and I am filled with amazement at this
thing!' 'And I also, by Allah, O Commander of the Faithful,'
replied Jaafer. Then the barge passed on and disappeared from
sight; whereupon the boatman pushed out again into the stream,
saying, 'Praised be God for safety, since none hath fallen in
with us!' 'O old man,' said Er Reshid, 'doth the Khalif come down
the river every night?' 'Yes, O my lord,' answered the boatman;
'he hath done so every night this year past.' 'O old man,'
rejoined Er Reshid, 'we wish thee of thy favour to await us here
to-morrow night, and we will give thee five dinars, for we are
strangers, lodging at El Khendek, and we have a mind to divert
ourselves.' 'With all my heart,' replied the boatman. Then the
Khalif and Jaafer and Mesrour returned to the palace, where they
put off their merchants' habits and donning their apparel of
state, sat down each in his several room. Then came the amirs and
viziers and chamberlains and officers, and the Divan assembled as
of wont.

When the night came and all the folk had dispersed and gone each
his own way, the Khalif said to his Vizier, 'Come, O Jaafer, let
us go and amuse ourselves by looking on the other Khalif.' At
this, Jaafer and Mesrour laughed, and the three, donning
merchants' habits, went out at the privy gate and made their way
through the city, in great glee, till they came to the Tigris,
where they found the boatman sitting, waiting for them. They
embarked with him in the boat and had not sat long, before up
came the mock Khalif's barge, with the cresset-bearers crying
aloud as of wont, and in it two hundred white slaves other than
those of the previous night. 'O Vizier,' exclaimed the Khalif,
'had I heard tell of this, I had not believed it; but I have seen
it with my own eyes.' Then said he to the boatman, 'Take these
ten dinars and row us along abreast of them, for they are in the
light and we in the shade, and we can see them and divert
ourselves by looking on them, but they cannot see us.' So he took
the money and pushing off, followed in the shadow of the barge,
till they came among the gardens and the barge cast anchor before
a postern door, where they saw servants standing with a mule
saddled and bridled. Here the mock Khalif landed and mounting the
mule, rode away with his boon-companions, attended by his suite
and preceded by the cresset-bearers crying aloud. Then Haroun and
Jaafer and Mesrour landed also and making their way through the
press of servants, walked on before them. Presently, the cresset-
bearers espied them and seeing three strangers in merchants'
habits, misdoubted of them; so they pointed them out and caused
bring them before the mock Khalif, who looked at them and said,
'How come ye here at this hour?' 'O our lord,' answered they, 'we
are foreign merchants, who arrived here this day and were out a-
walking to-night, when ye came up and these men laid hands on us
and brought us before thee.' Quoth the mock Khalif, 'Since you
are strangers, no harm shall befall you; but had ye been of
Baghdad, I had struck off your heads.' Then he turned to his
Vizier and said to him, 'Take these men with thee; for they are
our guests this night.' 'I hear and obey, O our lord,' answered
he; and they followed him, till they came to a lofty and splendid
palace of curious ordinance, such as no king possesses, rising
from the dust and laying hold upon the marges of the clouds. Its
door was of teak, inlaid with glittering gold, and by it one
passed into a saloon, amiddleward which was a basin of water,
with an artificial fountain rising from its midst. It was
furnished with carpets and cushions and divans of brocade and
tables and other gear such as amazed the wit and defied
description. There, also, was a curtain drawn, and upon the door
were written these two verses:

A palace, upon it be blessing and greeting and grace! Fair
fortune hath put off her beauty to brighten the place.
Therein are all manner of marvels and rarities found; The penmen
are puzzled in story its charms to retrace.

The mock Khalif entered with his company and sat down on a throne
of gold, set with jewels and covered with a prayer-carpet of
yellow silk; whilst the boon-companions took their seats and the
sword-bearer stood before him. Then the servants laid the tables
and they ate and washed their hands, after which the dishes were
removed and the wine-service set on, with cups and flagons in due
order. The cup went round till it came to Er Reshid, who refused
it, and the mock Khalif said to Jaafer, 'What ails thy friend
that he drinks not?' 'O our lord,' replied the Vizier, 'this long
while he hath drunk no wine.' Quoth the mock Khalif, 'I have
drink other than this, a kind of apple-wine, that will suit him.'
So he let bring apple-sherbet and said to Haroun, 'Drink thou of
this, as often as it comes to thy turn.' Then they continued to
drink and make merry, till the wine rose to their heads and
mastered their wits; and Haroun said to Jaafer, 'O Jaafer, by
Allah, we have no such vessels as these. Would God I knew what
manner of man this is!' Presently, the young man glanced at them
and seeing them talking privily, said, 'It is unmannerly to
whisper.' 'No rudeness was meant,' answered Jaafer. 'My friend
did but say to me, "Verily, I have travelled in most countries
and have caroused and companied with the greatest of kings and
captains; yet never saw I a goodlier ordinance than this nor
passed a more delightful night; save that the people of Baghdad
say, 'Drink without music often leaves headache.'"' When the mock
Khalif heard this, he smiled merrily and struck a gong[FN#145]
with a rod he had in his hand; whereupon a door opened and out
came an eunuch, bearing a stool of ivory, inlaid with glittering
gold, and followed by a damsel of surpassing beauty and symmetry.
He set down the stool and the damsel seated herself on it, as she
were the sun shining in the cloudless sky. In her hand she had a
lute of Indian make, which she laid in her lap and bending over
it as a mother bends over her child, preluded in four-and-twenty
modes, amazing all wits. Then she returned to the first mode and
sang the following verses to a lively measure:

The tongue of passion in my heart bespeaketh thee of me And
giveth thee to know that I enamoured am of thee.
The burning of an anguished heart is witness to my pain And
ulcerated eyes and tears that flow incessantly.
I had no knowledge what Love was, before the love of thee; But
God's forewritten ordinance o'ertaketh all that be.

When the mock Khalif heard this, he gave a great cry and rent his
robe to the skirt, whereupon they let down a curtain over him and
brought him a fresh robe, handsomer than the first. He put it on
and sat as before, till the cup came round to him, when he struck
the gong a second time and behold, a door opened and out came an
eunuch with a chair of gold, followed by a damsel handsomer than
the first, bearing a lute, such as mortified the heart of the
envious. She sat down on the chair and sang to the lute these

Ah, how can I be patient, when longing in my soul Flames high and
from mine eyelids the tears in torrents roll?
Life hath no sweet, by Allah, wherein I may rejoice. How shall a
heart be joyous, that's all fulfilled of dole?

No sooner did the youth hear this than he gave a great cry and
rent his clothes to the skirt; whereupon they let down the
curtain over him and brought him another dress. He put it on and
sitting up as before, fell again to cheerful talk, till the cup
came round to him, when he smote once more upon the gong and out
came an eunuch with a chair, followed by a damsel fairer than she
who had foregone her. So she sat down on the chair, with a lute
in her hand, and sang thereto the following verses:

Have done with your disdain and leave to make me rue; For, by
your life, my heart to you was ever true!
Have ruth on one distraught, the bondslave of your love, Sorry
and sick and full of longings ever new.
Sickness, for passion's stress, hath wasted him to nought, And
still for your consent to Allah he doth sue.
O ye full moons, whose place of sojourn is my heart, Amongst the
human race whom can I choose but you?

At this the young man gave a great cry and rent his clothes,
whereupon they let fall the curtain over him and brought him
other clothes. Then he returned to his former case with his boon-
companions and the cup went round as before, till it came to him,
when he struck the gong a fourth time and the door opening, out
came a boy, bearing a chair and followed by a damsel. He set the
chair for her and she sat down upon it and taking the lute, tuned
it and sang to it these verses:

When, when will separation and hatred pass away And what is past
of joyance come back to make me gay?
But yesterday, in gladness, one dwelling held us both; We saw the
enviers napping, all heedless of their prey.
But fortune played the traitor with us and sundered us, And left
our dwelling-places even as the desert grey.
Wilt have me, O my censor, be solaced for my loves? Alas, my
heart the censor, I see, will not obey!
So make an end of chiding and leave me to my love; For of my
loved one's converse my heart is full alway.
Fair lords, though you've been fickle and broken faith and troth,
Deem not my heart for absence forgets you night or day.

When the mock Khalif heard the girl's song, he gave a great cry
and tearing his clothes as before, fell down in a swoon;
whereupon they would have let down the curtain over him, as of
wont; but the cords stuck fast and Er Reshid, chancing to look at
him, saw on his body the marks of beating with palm-rods and said
to Jaafer, 'By Allah, he is a handsome youth, but a foul thief!'
'Whence knowest thou that, O Commander of the Faithful?' asked
Jaafer, and the Khalif answered, 'Sawst thou not the marks of
whips on his sides?' Then they let fall the curtain over him and
brought him a fresh dress, which he put on and sat up as before
with his courtiers. Presently, he saw the Khalif and Jaafer
whispering together and said to them, 'What is the matter,
gentlemen?' 'Nothing, my lord,' replied Jaafer, 'save that my
friend here, who (as is not unknown to thee) is of the merchants
and hath visited all the great cities and countries of the world
and foregathered with kings and men of worth, saith to me,
"Verily, that which our lord the Khalif hath done this night is
beyond measure extravagant, never saw I any do the like of his
fashion in any country; for he hath rent four dresses, each worth
a thousand dinars, and this is surely excessive extravagance."'
'O man,' replied the youth, 'the money is my money and the stuff
my stuff and this is by way of largesse to my servants and
followers; for each suit that is rent belongeth to one of my
boon-companions here present and I appoint him, in exchange
therefor, [if it so like him,] the sum of five hundred dinars.'
'Well is that thou dost, O our lord!' answered Jaafer and recited
the following verses:

The virtues sure have built themselves a dwelling in thy palm;
Thou hast thy wealth to all mankind made common property.
An if the virtues' doors were shut on us one luckless day, Thy
hand unto their locks, indeed, were even as a key.

When the young man heard these verses, he ordered Jaafer a
thousand dinars and a dress of honour. Then the cup went round
among them and the wine was pleasant to them; but, after awhile,
the Khalif said to Jaafer, 'Ask him of the marks on his ribs,
that we may see what he will say.' 'Softly, O my lord,' replied
Jaafer; 'be not hasty, for patience is more becoming.' 'By the
life of my head and by the tomb of El Abbas,'[FN#146] rejoined
the Khalif, 'except thou ask him, I will assuredly make an end of
thee!' With this the young man turned towards Jaafer and said to
him, 'What ails thee and thy friend to be whispering together?
Tell me what is to do with you.' 'It is nothing,' replied
Jaafer; but the mock Khalif rejoined, 'I conjure thee, by Allah,
tell me what ails you and hide from me nothing of your case.' 'O
my lord,' answered the Vizier, 'my companion here saw on thy
sides the marks of beating with whips and rods and marvelled
thereat exceedingly, saying, "How came the Khalif to be beaten?"
And he would fain know the cause of this.' When the youth heard
this, he smiled and said, 'Know that my story is wonderful and my
case extraordinary; were it graven with needles on the corners of
the eye, it would serve as an admonition to him who can profit by
admonition.' And he sighed and repeated the following verses:

Strange is my story and outdoes all marvels that can be. By Love
itself I swear, my ways are straitened upon me!
An ye would know my case, give ear and hearken to my tale And all
be dumb, on every side, in this our company.
Take heed unto my speech, for lo! therein a warning is; Ay, and
my words no leasing are, but naked verity.
I am a man of passion slain, the victim of desire, And she who
slew me fairer is than all the stars to see.
A bright black eye she hath, whose glance is as an Indian sword,
And from her eyebrows' bended bows full many a shaft shoots
My heart forebodes me that 'mongst you the Khalif of the age, Our
Imam[FN#147] is, of high descent and noble pedigree,
And that the second of you he, that's known as Jaafer, is, His
vizier and a vizier's son, a lord of high degree.
Yea, and the third of you Mesrour the eunuch is, I ween, The
swordsman of his vengeance. So, if true my saying be,
I have of this my case attained to all for which I hoped And
hearts' content from every side is come, indeed, to me.

When they heard this, Jaafer swore to him a dissembling oath that
they were not those he named; whereupon he laughed and said,
'Know, O my lords, that I am not the Commander of the Faithful
and that I do but style myself thus, to get my will of the people
of the city. My real name is Mohammed Ali son of Ali the Jeweller
and my father was one of the chief men [of the city]. When he
died, he left me great store of gold and silver and pearls and
coral and rubies and chrysolites and other jewels, besides houses
and lands and baths and gardens and orchards and shops and
brickfields and slaves, male and female. One day, as I sat in my
shop, surrounded by my slaves and servants, there came up a young
lady, riding on a mule and attended by three damsels like moons.
She alighted at my shop and seating herself by me, said to me,
"Art thou Mohammed the jeweller?" "Yes," answered I, "I am he, at
thy service." "Hast thou a necklace of jewels fit for me?" asked
she, and I replied, "O my lady, I will show thee what I have; and
if any please thee, it will be of thy slave's good luck; if not,
of his ill-fortune." I had by me a hundred necklaces and showed
them all to her; but none of them pleased her and she said, "I
want a better than those I have seen." Now I had a small
necklace, that my father had bought for a hundred thousand dinars
and the like whereof was not to be found with any of the great
kings; so I said to her, "O my lady, I have yet one necklace of
fine stones, whose like none possesseth, great or small." "Show
it me," said she. So I showed it her and she said, "This is what
I sought and what I have wished for all my life. What is its
price?" Quoth I, "It cost my father a hundred thousand dinars;"
and she said, "I will give thee five thousand dinars to thy
profit." "O my lady," answered I, "the necklace and its owner are
at thy service and I cannot gainsay thee [in aught]." "Not so,"
rejoined she; "needs must thou have the profit, and I am still
much beholden to thee." Then she rose and mounting the mule in
haste, said to me, "O my lord, in God's name, favour us with thy
company, to receive the money; for this thy day is a milk-white
day[FN#148] with us." So I shut the shop and accompanied her, in
all security, till we came to a house, on which were manifest the
signs of fortune. Its door was wrought with gold and silver and
lapis lazuli, and thereon were written these verses:

Nay mourning never enter thee, I pray, O house, nor fortune e'er
thy lord bewray!
A goodly sojourn art thou to the guest, When strait on him is
every place and way.

She dismounted and entered the house, bidding me sit down on the
stone bench at the door, till the money-changer should come. So I
sat awhile, till presently a damsel came out to me and said, "Q
my lord, enter the vestibule; for it is not seemly that thou
shouldst sit at the door." Accordingly, I entered the vestibule
and sat down on the settle there. As I sat, another damsel came
out and said to me, "O my lord, my mistress bids thee enter and
sit down at the door of the saloon, to receive thy money." So I
entered and sat down, nor had I sat a moment, before a curtain of
silk was drawn aside and I saw the lady seated on a throne of
gold, with the necklace about her neck, unveiled and showing a
face as it were the round of the moon. At this sight, my wit was
troubled and my mind confounded, by reason of her exceeding
beauty and grace; but, when she saw me, she rose and coming up to
me, said, "O light of mine eyes, is every handsome one like thee
pitiless to his mistress?" "O my lady," answered I, "beauty, all
of it, is in thee and is one of thine attributes." "O jeweller,"
rejoined she, "know that I love thee and can hardly credit that I
have brought thee hither." Then she bent to me and I kissed her,
and she kissed me, and drawing me towards her, pressed me to her
bosom. She knew by my case that I had a mind to enjoy her; so she
said to me, "O my lord, dost thou think to foregather with me
unlawfully? By Allah, may he not live who would do the like of
this sin and who takes pleasure in foul talk! I am a clean
virgin, whom no man hath approached, nor am I unknown in the
city. Knowest thou who I am?" "No, by Allah, O my lady!" replied
I. Quoth she, "I am the lady Dunya, daughter of Yehya ben Khalid
the Barmecide and sister of Jaafer, the Khalif's Vizier." When I

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